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Southern Alberta producers close out another tough year

Southern Alberta producers close out another tough year
In mid August, the MD of Pincher Creek declared an agricultural disaster. Well over two dozen counties and districts have done the same.
In mid August, the MD of Pincher Creek declared an agricultural disaster. Well over two dozen counties and districts have done the same.
IMAGE: Dave Lueneberg
A very dry July and August resulted in some of the lowest grain yields in recent memory for producers right across the spectrum. This photo of a hay field west of Pincher Creek was taken in mid August.
IMAGE: Dave Lueneberg
A very dry July and August resulted in some of the lowest grain yields in recent memory for producers right across the spectrum. This photo of a hay field west of Pincher Creek was taken in mid August.

Southern Alberta producers close out another tough year

By Dave Lueneberg
By Dave Lueneberg
Local Journalism Initiative
Shootin’ the Breeze Local Journalism Initiative
October 10, 2023
October 10, 2023

Like their counterparts in other areas of agriculture, wheat and barley producers in southern Alberta took a hit this year.

While the final numbers won’t be in for a couple of weeks, a lack of consistent moisture this past spring and summer has translated into a reduced harvest.

“Our yields are down quite a bit … probably about 60 per cent than what we were shooting for,” says Dean Hubbard, a director with the newly formed Alberta Grains Commission, which merged the province’s wheat and barley components under one umbrella.

“As you go towards Vulcan, a lot of the crops in that area were kind of written off already back in July.”

While we saw rain in September, Hubbard feels it’s a case, at least for grass-fed producers, of “too little, too late.”

“It’s going to be pretty hard, especially on the grasslands, for it to respond with any amount of growth to help out the ranchers,” he says. “In the Pincher Creek area, there would be quite a bit of forage crops like alfalfa or alfalfa grass mixes that would be affected.”

 

 

In mid August, the MD of Pincher Creek made the rare move of declaring an agricultural disaster. It wasn’t alone, with well over two dozen counties and districts doing the same.

The latest agriculture moisture situation report, provided by the province Sept. 20, still shows a dry southwest. In fact, you have to travel to the Barrhead region in the northwest to see good or better-than-good growing conditions.

Hubbard, who farms close to 3,000 acres east of Claresholm, urges struggling producers to consider contacting the aid programs offered.

“I don’t know many people that are self-insured,” he adds.

This year, no doubt, can be added to a long list of tough years for southern Alberta farmers when it comes to production.

“Since about 2015, I would say we’ve been below average except for, maybe, one year … either 2020 or 2021 when we caught some rains just at the right time and had exceptional crops,” Hubbard recalls. “Even in that year, we were extremely dry in July.”

 

 

During the month of September, the Pincher Creek airport received just under 38 millimetres of precipitation, slightly more than the average.

However, the hope, particularly for producers, is for a large snowpack, come this winter. Failing that, a normal late heavy snowfall in April would also set up farmers for a good 2024, but, then again, Mother Nature has been her normal self for the last few years.

The region’s farmers are optimistically hoping next year will be different.

 

Ad for Vape in Pincher Creek

 

Like their counterparts in other areas of agriculture, wheat and barley producers in southern Alberta took a hit this year.

While the final numbers won’t be in for a couple of weeks, a lack of consistent moisture this past spring and summer has translated into a reduced harvest.

“Our yields are down quite a bit … probably about 60 per cent than what we were shooting for,” says Dean Hubbard, a director with the newly formed Alberta Grains Commission, which merged the province’s wheat and barley components under one umbrella.

“As you go towards Vulcan, a lot of the crops in that area were kind of written off already back in July.”

While we saw rain in September, Hubbard feels it’s a case, at least for grass-fed producers, of “too little, too late.”

“It’s going to be pretty hard, especially on the grasslands, for it to respond with any amount of growth to help out the ranchers,” he says. “In the Pincher Creek area, there would be quite a bit of forage crops like alfalfa or alfalfa grass mixes that would be affected.”

 

Ad for Shadowbar Shepherds Training in Pincher Creek

 

In mid August, the MD of Pincher Creek made the rare move of declaring an agricultural disaster. It wasn’t alone, with well over two dozen counties and districts doing the same.

The latest agriculture moisture situation report, provided by the province Sept. 20, still shows a dry southwest. In fact, you have to travel to the Barrhead region in the northwest to see good or better-than-good growing conditions.

Hubbard, who farms close to 3,000 acres east of Claresholm, urges struggling producers to consider contacting the aid programs offered.

“I don’t know many people that are self-insured,” he adds.

This year, no doubt, can be added to a long list of tough years for southern Alberta farmers when it comes to production.

“Since about 2015, I would say we’ve been below average except for, maybe, one year … either 2020 or 2021 when we caught some rains just at the right time and had exceptional crops,” Hubbard recalls. “Even in that year, we were extremely dry in July.”

 

 

During the month of September, the Pincher Creek airport received just under 38 millimetres of precipitation, slightly more than the average.

However, the hope, particularly for producers, is for a large snowpack, come this winter. Failing that, a normal late heavy snowfall in April would also set up farmers for a good 2024, but, then again, Mother Nature has been her normal self for the last few years.

The region’s farmers are optimistically hoping next year will be different.

 

 

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Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.